Attorneys General have 'serious concerns' about NFL's treatment of female employees

Attorneys general in six states, including New York, have told the NFL they are “seriously concerned” about allegations of workplace har...


Attorneys general in six states, including New York, have told the NFL they are “seriously concerned” about allegations of workplace harassment of women and minorities and warned the league that unless it takes steps to resolve the issues, she could face a major investigation.

The Chief Legal Officers sent a letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday evening setting out their concerns, which stem from a New York Times report in which more than 30 former employees described experiencing a demoralizing culture.

The allegations included female staff members saying they were forced to watch a video showing former running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée; be asked to state publicly if they have been victims of domestic violence; and to be marginalized or kicked out of their jobs if they questioned the NFLdealing with sexual harassment issues.

“All of this is completely unacceptable and potentially illegal,” the attorneys general wrote in a letter, which was obtained by The Times, adding that they would use “the full weight of our authority to investigate and prosecute allegations of harassment, employer discrimination or retaliation in all of our states, including the National Football League.The league’s headquarters are in Manhattan and Letitia James, the New York Attorney General, was among the signatories.

In a statement released Wednesday, James and the other attorneys general asked victims and witnesses of discrimination in the NFL to file complaints with his office. Often, civil workplace investigations open after employees or former employees file complaints directly with attorneys general. Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington State joined New York.

In response to the February report, the NFL disputed that women, and particularly women of color, have been sidelined or that the league is insensitive to issues of gender and racial inequality.

“We share the Attorneys General’s commitment to ensuring that all of our workplaces – including the league office and 32 clubs – are diverse, inclusive and free from discrimination and harassment,” the league said. in a statement Wednesday, adding that it intended to share “the policies, practices, protocols, education programs and partnerships” put in place to respond to its corporate culture.

The letter from the attorneys general came as the NFL faces a congressional investigation into the on-the-job treatment of employees of its Washington franchise and a discrimination lawsuit brought by Brian Flores, an Afro-Latino man and former coach of the United States. Miami Dolphins, who said the league flouted its rules requiring teams to interview a wide range of candidates for coaching and general manager positions.

Flores was fired by the Miami Dolphins at the end of the 2021 season and, without a head coaching offer, was hired as an assistant defensive coach by the Pittsburgh Steelers. A pre-trial conference for his federal trial is scheduled for April 29.

Several teams vehemently denied Flores’ claims, and the NFL said it was “deeply committed to ensuring fair employment practices” and that “we will defend ourselves against these claims, which are baseless.”

A The congressional committee also investigated the NFL’s handling of widespread sexual harassment allegations. in the front office of the Washington Commanders. This committee requested tens of thousands of documents from the league and held a hearing in February where former employees spoke about their experiences working for the team and presented new harassment allegations against Daniel Snyder. , the owner of Commanders.

Snyder denied the allegations, and the NFL launched an investigation into the new sexual harassment allegations. In 2021, the league concluded its year-long investigation into original reports of harassment within the COs organization, fine the team $10 million but refusing to make public all of its conclusions.

Last week, Goodell said there was “no time frame” to complete the league’s investigation into whether Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson violated his personal conduct policy. He was accused by 22 women of sexual misconduct in 2020, allegations that Watson denies. In March, grand juries in two Texas counties dismissed 10 criminal cases in total against him.

The threat to investigate working conditions at NFL headquarters is the latest attempt by James, a Democrat who in 2018 became New York’s first black woman elected attorney general, to confront businesses and employers accused of harassment. or sexual abuse.

His investigations range from high-profile inquiries into New York’s restaurant industry to less high-profile cases, such as a 2020 investigation into a Long Island-based construction company that his office discovered sexually harassing 18 former employees.

His office investigated allegations of sexual harassment at the Spotted Pig, a restaurant in Manhattan who closed in January 2020, a few weeks after James obtained a settlement from Ken Friedman, its main owner. Friedman agreed to pay $240,000 and a share of his profits to 11 former employees who had accused him of sexual harassment, retaliation and discrimination.

This investigation, which began under James’ predecessor, also looked into cases of sexual harassment by Mario Batali, the celebrity chef and former investor in the Spotted Pig.

James directed a separate investigation in Batali and his former partner, Joe Bastianich, who found their once sprawling restaurant business violated state and city human rights laws. His office negotiated a $600,000 settlement to pay at least 20 women and men who said they were sexually harassed while working at their high-end restaurants, including Babbo, Lupa and Del Posto.

More recently, James’ office has overseen investigation in sexual harassment allegations — from inappropriate comments to instances of unwanted touching — against Andrew M. Cuomo that led to his resignation as governor. His office released a devastating report in August that detailed instances in which Cuomo harassed multiple women, including current and former government employees, from an executive assistant to a female state trooper.

“I believe women, and I believe these 11 women,” James said when the report was released, adding that the state had “an obligation to protect women in the workplace.”

Luis Ferré-Sadurni contributed reporting from Albany, NY

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Newsrust - US Top News: Attorneys General have 'serious concerns' about NFL's treatment of female employees
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